Saturday, July 12, 2008

And then I couldn't get them off

Alex has always had a "I can conquer anything" attitude. Unless he thinks someone else might see him try and fail. Or if there's people his age who can already do what he's about to attempt. Learning to ride a bike was no different. In fact, it was the first time I have seen him have a real defeatist attitude about one thing for so long.

In Spokane our apartment complex was a low income housing thing which meant there was a lot of unsupervised kids doing whatever they wanted. Generally what they wanted was vandalism of some sort (throwing rocks at cars, graffiti in crayon because they are so baaaad, etc). Often times they rode their bikes in the parking lot which was not laid out well for visual awareness. Anyway, these kids ended up causing the landlords to make a lot of stupid rules because the parents couldn't be bothered to make their own rules (for anyone!... good rule: supervise your children!!). One of the rules governed bike riding: there was to be none on the sidewalks (they would actually run people down), grass (sprinkler heads were being broken off), or in the parking lot (obviously so they didn't get hit).

We had three kids and neither Brandon or I were really excited about packing up bikes and kids and snacks and drinks and going to find somewhere we could ride bikes without being in the way or hit by cars. It was hot and exhaustive and a lot of running (means exercise and I HATE it). So we just didn't.

Aiden bought all the kids new bikes last year since they had all outgrown theirs and/or had them stolen from where we were required to park bikes.

Anyway, the point is we did try to teach Alex last summer. He hadn't had enough practice to do it without training wheels so we had to go to a special bike shop to get training wheels that could support his weight. Then we had to figure out how to get them on his bike. Oh my goodness it was a long process. By this time he had a Razor scooter and didn't want to put in the effort to learn something somewhat hard. So he found excuses to not ride.

I got fed up one day and took the training wheels off. Grandpa had to show me how to fix his axle since I made it crooked and then he was forced to learn. And he refused. That kid is so smart he can reason and argue his way through any situation (I wonder where he gets it from?). I get worn down before he does so I let him skip by without it. Then Annie got her bike out and was zooming all over the place. I realized waiting until 7 is not a normal time to start learning this skill. So I took off her training wheels. She got it pretty dang quickly.

Alex still refused to go on the pavement where he swore he'd go too fast and die in a crash. He was so convinced it was easier to ride in the grass. (for those of you who do not live here, our grass is not a lawn. That implies a smoothness. No, our grass is a plethora of clumps of grass which all happen to be living next to each other and have a lot of poky weed neighbors). I forced him to go out and learn in the parking lot.

This sounds like it was a relatively short efforted thing. It wasn't. I had to enlist the help of Shaila's husband, Matt, who rides his bike to school/work everyday and is someone our kids look up to. Alex was having a hard time with all of it but the turning/steering thing was a big crux. He went around about half way in our parking lot loop (NOTE: This is not the death trap parking lot our old place had. This is an open and flat lot where there is one way cars will enter and exit. We are watching for cars all the time. ) and gave up. Annie got up on her bike, crashed a couple of times until I showed her where to ride to stay away from the curb on the island in the middle and she went around four times before she finally jumped off.

The next morning (Friday) I started our day with trying to get Alex out to his bike before all the other big kids would be up and about and see him failing (this is not how I said it to him, exactly but it was close). That little bugger had gone around once and was ready to quit. Two of his friends had come out and he was getting self conscious. So I got them to get on bikes and ride, too. It got to the point that Alex had to choice but to ride his bike if he wanted to play with his friends. Oh, there was whining and reasoning and crying (a bit) but he was backed into a corner. I thought "AHA! We've got him now!"

He started going around. One lap, two laps.... trying to ask if he can quit. So before he could finish asking, Aiden and I yelled that he was going to beat Annie's record. At this point Annie had done about 9 million laps in a row but he didn't know that, he just wanted to beat her four from Thursday night.

As he rounded the corner to fly past me for his fifth lap I asked him how many laps he had done. He told me through gritted teeth. On his next time around I was cheering for him and damned if that little booger wasn't smiling. Oh, he tried REALLY hard to not let us see he was actually enjoying himself. But then it broke through and it was a billion watt smile.

I love being a mom.

I also love being right. We kept telling him that he would get it eventually and then that would be all he'd want to do. The rest of his friends came out a little while later and wanted to play Pokemon. He's been telling me that was more fun than trying to learn his bike. All the sudden yesterday morning he was standing outside by his friends playing and was telling them "No, I want to play the bike riding game".

After lunch I was coming out to help them get started so they could ride some more until we had to leave for Ellensburg. They wanted to get in all the bike time they could before they had to not ride for 2 whole days. I was apparently too slow for them to wait because as I came out Annie was already going. Alex said she started herself (later she told me she figured out this trick of using the curb to stand on to get going. Interesting trick she "figured out"; it's the same one Aiden and I had been explaining for a week!). Alex said he needed help to get going so I told him to try on his own. He gave it a half hearted attempt and I said "OH MY GOSH YOU ALMOST HAD IT!!!" so he tried again and low and behold he didn't even need the curb.

Why do they grow up?!?


  1. Um, unrelated to the actual post, and ONLY about the title (obviously I have watched one too many episodes of The Office)...That's what she said.

    Way to go Alex and Annie! Maybe you should come up here and teach Caden how to ride w/o training wheels - oh wait, I guess I can make that Ryan's job since I will no longer be the only parent in the house after tomorrow - YAY!

  2. You guys are bike teaching machine's!! I can't believe you taught Malcolm to ride his bike in one day. I think I'll leave all the hard parenting stuff for you guys. It won't be "Go ask Dad!", it'll be "Goes ask Holly or Aiden!" Haha!!!

  3. Shaila, you can try that but I don't know if you'll like ALL the answers you'll get!


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